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Thursday, April 23, 2009
 

The Steelers continue to re-sign their players using a familiar formula.

For the second consecutive year, starting cornerback Ike Taylor has restructured his contract to create more salary cap space.

Agent Joel Segal confirmed that Taylor, a Pro Bowl alternate last season who signed a five-year, $23.75 million extension in 2006, reduced his 2009 base salary of $3.5 million recently.

"There was a minor restructure," Segal, Taylor's new representative, said Wednesday.

By converting some of Taylor's base salary into a signing bonus, the Steelers were able to come up with more money to sign players.

Last week, the Steelers re-signed Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison to a six-year, $51.175 million contract - the largest deal for a defensive player in franchise history.

On Monday, a week after Harrison's signing, director of football operations Kevin Colbert said the Steelers released running back Gary Russell so they could re-sign quarterback Charlie Batch.

"We were very, very tight, and we actually couldn't add Charlie without deleting somebody," Colbert said. "With the uncertainty of the (collective bargaining agreement), it's harder to manipulate not only new contracts but some of the stuff you used to do to create (salary cap) room as far as guaranteeing and turning it into a signing bonus."

Taylor's willingness to restructure his contract paid off last year when he reduced his $4.1 million base salary by $3 million also in the form of a signing bonus so the Steelers could come to terms with first-round draft pick Rashard Mendenhall.

Taylor, the highest-paid cornerback in franchise history, has two years remaining on his current deal. He led Steelers corners in passes defensed in 2008 while covering a talented group of receivers that included Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

"Any time a high character guy like Ike asks you to represent him, it's flattering and exciting. He's an elite corner," said Segal, who also represents Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes. "You haven't seen the best of him yet."

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